Success has many fathers. Failure is an orphan. Lee Iaccoca made sure everyone associated him with the success of the Mustang, but who is to blame for the Edsel? Digging into those stories illuminates business culture even today.One interesting anecdote, largely unexplored, is the question of where the American Motors Corporation V-8 that debuted in 1956 came from. AMC only came into existence when Nash and Hudson merged in 1954.
Neither marque previously had a V-8, though Nash had long used overhead valves. Hudson was well known for its powerful flathead straight-sixes. To compete in the mid-’50s, though, a company absolutely had to have a V-8.At first, it appeared that the solution was to purchase Packard’s new V-8 engine, which had debuted for 1955. A detuned version was available in both the Nash Ambassador and the Hudson Hornet for 1955 and part of 1956.
Unfortunately, the arrangement between the companies broke down, leaving AMC to fend for itself.In a remarkably brief time, AMC replaced the Packard engine with its own design, a 250-cu.in. V-8 that grew to 327-cu.in. by 1957, when it made a big splash under the hood of the compact-sized Rambler Rebel.
The Rebel wound up being the fastest American sedan that year—beating out the likes of the supercharged F-code Ford, the fuel-injected Chevrolet, and even the vaunted Chrysler 300C.